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Germany

Center-left minority coalition takes power in North Rhine-Westphalia

The Social Democrats (SPD) and the Green Party have taken over in North Rhine-Westphalia with the SPD's Hannelore Kraft as the leader of their minority government.

North Rhine-Westphalia's new premier, Hannelore Kraft of the SPD and her deputy Sylvia Loehrmann of the Greens

Kraft and her deputy, Sylvia Loehrmann of the Greens, have assumed power

Members of the legislature in Germany's most populous state elected Social Democrat (SPD) Hannelore Kraft to lead a new minority government on Wednesday, in coalition with the Greens. Kraft is the first woman to become premier of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

It took two rounds of voting in the state capital, Dusseldorf, to elect the 49-year-old Kraft. In the first round of voting an absolute majority is required, which Kraft was unable to achieve. In the second round, only a simple majority is needed. There were 90 votes for Kraft and 80 against, while 11 lawmakers abstained.

A fractured result from state elections in May led to nearly two months of coalition negotiations. Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats and the SPD won the same number of votes, but neither party had a majority with its preferred coalition partner. A "grand coalition" between the SPD and CDU was untenable as was an SPD coalition including the far-left Left party. Talks between the SPD and the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) also failed.

The CDU had been in been in power with the FDP in North Rhine-Westphalia with Juergen Ruettgers the state premier. Their defeat in the state also cost them their majority in the Bundesrat, Germany's upper house of parliament.

The new government is to be made up of seven ministers from the SPD and three from the Greens.

Author: Holly Fox (AFP/Reuters)
Editor: Chuck Penfold

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